TV Tax Ads Lie, Annoy and Infuriate

thumbsdownI hate those TV Tax ads. There are the two varieties... the ones from the cable and satellite guys and the ones from the networks telling us "Local TV Matters". I hate them both.


That's my tweet after seeing another TV Tax ad during the Leafs game last night. I thought they were gone, but apparently not.


That was someone replying to me on Twitter, helping to explain why these ads are so annoying. I find them insulting, but not just because of the obnoxious sarcasm. I resent the implication we're about to be hit with a TV tax. There is no TV tax!

Only the government can tax us. The government is not taxing us here, the CRTC is just ruling whether TV broadcasters can charge the cable and satellite providers for their content. If our cable bill increases as a result, it's because Bell and Rogers and the gang passed on the extra cost. It's not a tax, it's a multi-million dollar company passing on a new business expense to its customers.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Bell on both sides of the fence here? Bell is one of the big names behind the "TV Tax" ads (along with Rogers, Telus, Cogeco, EastLink, BellAliant and others), but they're also part-owner of the CTV network, one of the big names behind the "Local TV Matters" ads (along with CBC, Global, A Channel, CHEK and others). They simply can't lose.

I fully expect my Rogers bill to go up after this CRTC ruling, but it won't be because of a TV Tax. The TV Tax doesn't exist. My bill will go up because the cable and satellite companies are greedy bastards.

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Fredericton Steve

Local TV is a scam. CTV and Global like to do nothing other than run syndicated/american programming.

November 11, 2009 @ 5:24 PM


So a company is greedy because it's costs go up, so it raises it's prices. I thought that was called "business". I guess you missed that part in school Mike?

Here's one for you. Rather than bark and whine on your blog, how about exercising your fundamental right to CANCEL your TV. If you can't deal with that, then Mike STFU.

Contrary to what you think, you're entitled to nothing.

November 11, 2009 @ 5:29 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I'm not playing favourites, I'm just saying the "TV Tax" was manufactured by the cable providers' pr firm. A rate increase is not a tax.

November 11, 2009 @ 5:44 PM


A wealth transfer mandated by a government is, by definition, a tax. While the statutory incidence (who is responsible for paying/collecting the tax) may not involve the end consumer directly, the reality is that a portion of the higher cost will be passed on to the consumer.

I do agree with you that the commercials for both sides are extremely annoying.

November 11, 2009 @ 5:54 PM


It's not a traditional rate increase though. It's a mandated one (c'mon - the CRTC is smart enough to know their mandated revenue sharing will be absorbed by the consumer, not by the corporations).

November 11, 2009 @ 5:55 PM


The thing that bugs me the most is how the CTV ads go on and on about how important it is to preserve the distinctness of local culture.

Really, CTV? From the company that's spent the past couple years piece-by-piece dismantling an actual distinct piece of Toronto culture? How's the CITY-TV building doing these days? Or Breakfast Televison? What about 1050? Oh, wait...

November 11, 2009 @ 7:40 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Lorne, that's a great point, and probably worthy of an entry unto itself.

CTV bought CITY-TV and slowly dismantled all original aspects of the once proud local station.

They canned Ed the Sock:
They blew away Silverman Helps:
They got rid of Speaker's Corner:
They cancelled The NewMusic:
They killed 1050 CHUM:

Talk about preserving local culture!

November 11, 2009 @ 7:52 PM


So if local TV takes issue with cable, then the answer is simple. STFU and pull your station off the cable system. We'll see how long these "local" stations last standing on their own. They'd be gone in 6 months.

And this local programming stuff is rubbish. Most times when I walk by the studios of CITY TV in Calgary, I see dark windows and no people. They're about as local as the Globe and Mail is.

The only station that gets any respect from me is OMNI. Maybe not "local" but they do support specific cultures.

November 11, 2009 @ 8:06 PM


Direct TV customers are getting punished down here because Versus is trying to charge Direct TV more to carry the channel but Direct TV refuses to carry Versus because they would have to pass the cost on to its customers.....They actually have an apology up on the Versus channel to Hockey fans in the US stating that they are sorry and they understand how much hockey means to its fans. It pisses me off big time that they don;t just eat the cost, its not like they are losing money to begin with.

November 11, 2009 @ 10:46 PM


i cancelled cable months ago and i don't miss it at all :) now if you'll excuse me, i'm off to part with my disposable income on products i saw advertised on tv...

November 12, 2009 @ 7:25 AM


The only thing about local TV that's remotely local anymore is the news, and the internet is making that easier to come by. We can watch our American programming on American stations thank you very much, so if you truly want to be local and serve the purpose you claim to be serving, cover local things. give me more local sports or community events and less CSI and so you think you can make baloon animals or whatever the hell all that crap is.

No matter what happens here, it's a win win for Bell and Rogers and a lose lose for the people who pay for them to exist, especially because both of the major TV carriers also own stations.

November 12, 2009 @ 7:26 AM


How will all this fee for carriage affect time shifting?

In the US you are not allowed to bring another affiliate broadcast network signal.
An example is when Time Warner Cable and WIVB CBS Buffalo could not come to an agreement. WIVB's signal was pulled and no CBS programming was available to the customers of TWC.

Unlike here cable/satellite/FIOS US customers do not have access to out of market signals by time sifting, the practice of having Canadian signals from another time zone.

My concern is that when all this gets resolved we won't have access to the signals form the west coast available.

Watching the local news from Calgary or Vancouver is intersting when there is a huge local news story.

My biggest concern is that we will not be able to get the US network signals from the west coast. Most of the programs I record on my PVR are from the Seattle stations.

This way there are none of the chronic simultaneous substitution errors by CTV, Global, CITY, A or SUN TV.

November 12, 2009 @ 8:02 AM


“Greedy bastards”…. I don’t know about that, Mike.

Rogers and Bell seem to be giving away their services recently. The main reason of course is all the illegal satellites people are using. Drive around in the burbs (eg. Brampton, Mississauga, Richmond Hill) and you’ll see 3 or 4 dishes on people’s homes. It’s a good bet these people are stealing signals.

November 12, 2009 @ 11:38 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Interesting entry from Nosey Parker today on the Toronto Sun site:

I don't care either way about this corporate commercial squabble, but I do care when major Canadian companies think it is okay to make something up like this TV Tax and keep pushing it on the public.

There is no tax, there is no requirement, there is no request, there is no demand — from the TV networks, the government or anyone else — that that potential cost be passed on to captive TV viewer through increased cable or satellite TV billings.

If the TV networks are allowed to negotiate for money from the cable/satellite companies and your bill goes up, it is SOLELY because the cable/satellite companies make the free-choice decision to pass their increased cost on to you, the captive viewer in a rather monopolistic marketplace.

November 12, 2009 @ 12:19 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I especially like this analogy from Nosey Parker:

I just really, really wish they would stop telling The Big Lie that there is a TV Tax in the works. That's like Kellogg's saying you'll have to pay a Corn Flakes Tax because ethanol fuel demands have pushed up their raw material costs and their retail price is increasing as a result. They wouldn't think of pulling a stunt like that — unless every major producer of corn flakes got together and agreed they would all increase their retail price — and call it a Corn Flakes Tax.

In a free market, there is not now, nor will there be a Corn Flakes Tax. How is it that the cable and satellite TV carriers in the same situation can all agree to potentially up their prices and call it a TV Tax?

November 12, 2009 @ 12:21 PM



I think you missed the point. If they simply wanted to put their prices up, they would and it would not be a tax. That's not what they are doing though, they are asking the CRTC to mandate an increase, across the board, that all subscribers will be required to pay. That's a tax.

That $10 is then used to feed "local TV" allowing the Corps to stop spending the reported $400M they do now, so they save even more and can blame the increase on "the government".

Here's the real kicker that most people miss, if you just signed a "contract" for services, you must pay the increase, if it gets approved, and you can not get out of your contract based upon them breaching said contract with a price hike, as their prices, did not in fact increase.

So, Irv, cancelling your contract in protest doesn't help, the "fines" imposed to break the contract would outweigh the extra monthly fees in a lot of cases.

Better to reduce your services by an amount more than the tax amount.


November 12, 2009 @ 12:49 PM


I think both groups are spinning this any way they can.
Years ago when cable first started to be introduced the broadcasters were desperate to get on the cable “air waves”. This would allow them to broadcast their shows to a much larger audience and increase their advertising revenues. The cable providers now had a much larger selection of shows. Everyone benefited from it.
Now we come to today and the broadcasters are seeing the ad revenue for their local TV stations drop. Since the viewers have a much larger choice in shows, the obvious result is a loss in viewers to the smaller stations. The biggest problem is that the other stations that are being watched (Bravo, Showcase..ect) are owned by the same people that own the small TV stations. So their own business model caused the decrease in viewers and a loss of profit from those stations.
Now the broadcasters want to charge the cable providers for their signal and the cable providers don’t want to pay.
This extra money won’t save local TV in the end. A new business plan would. It is also not a tax, it is an increase to pay for additional costs charged to the cable companies.
Either way, they are both fudging the truth.

November 12, 2009 @ 1:48 PM

Fredericton Steve

Mike you are way too smart to take such a dumb outlook on this situation. Sure it's not a tax, but like in any business any additional costs are passed on to the consumer.

Rogers does some shit I don't agree with but their stance on this issue is in the best interests of the consumer. I have NO interest in paying more on my cable bill to support CTV/Global's claim of saving local TV.

My "local" ctv is located 4 hrs away and shares my news coverage between 3 provinces. Global doesn't even have a local newscast. Neither show ANY local sports or entertainment with the exception of New Years Eve countdown (filmed, once again, 4 hours away) and the annual telethons. I think I could do without both. To make matters worse, these local channels simsub over programming I AM paying to see.

November 12, 2009 @ 5:36 PM

Hershell Ludovitz

"Local TV" does not exist in Canada; maybe a few shows daily (ie. the news) feature homegrown content, but largely the rest is American programming.

There is nothing more poisonous than Rogers who inundates EVERY commercial break with commercials for their own company (self-advertising on their own channels?), as well as these lame ads "Isn't it GREAT...". I mean, they advertise the television service THAT WE ARE ALREADY USING.

I have absolutely no hope for Canadian TV, when the only thing that got/gets any push is Corner Gas. I like the show, but come on..

When decent-or-better Canadian actors and writers can't even find work in their own country, it's a sad sad day for our culture.

November 25, 2009 @ 8:58 PM



November 30, 2009 @ 7:16 PM


quite frankly people I resent the entire situation not just because of the rise in price but also because of this heritage crap,"Canadian television" is sooo lousy that the crtc had to wrap it in the flag and take Freedom of choice AWAY from the consumer using the "be a good patriot" crap to keep actra in bussiness when it would have been better to keep the american channels and super-impose our commercials over theirs...after all tv programs are nothing more than lures to entice people via commercials to buy things.
also,personal tv packages need to be just that and not the decision of cable/satalite companies, I see no relevant reasons why I should have to pay for foriegn language channels wich Ill never bother with.

December 12, 2009 @ 3:49 PM

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